Jan. 24, 2005
BLACKSBURG, Va. – Overtime games are becoming somewhat of the norm for the No. 21-ranked Florida State women’s basketball team. Following two straight overtime wins at home, the Seminoles took it to a whole new level on Monday, taking down Virginia Tech (12-5, 2-3), 81-78, on the road at Cassell Coliseum, this time in double overtime. The Tribe improved to 18-2 overall and 5-1 in league play and now have sole possession of first place in the ACC standings.
“We go into a double overtime game and I just can’t say enough about my team and the way they came out and fought the way they did,” FSU head coach Sue Semrau said. “I think our unsung hero was LaQuinta Neely, coming in and defending the way she did and she hit that driving runner to put us into double overtime. They just never quit. Roneeka (Hodges) and Alicia (Gladden) did what they always do. This team just continues to get better and better every game and more and more heart.”
Alicia Gladden, who had just six points in the first half, scored a career-high 24 points, added nine rebounds and had a game-high six steals while Roneeka Hodges matched her with 24 points of her own. Ganiyat Adeduntan added 11 points and seven rebounds while LaQuinta Neely contributed double figures with a season-high 10 points..
“I started off slow and I got a little talk from Coach White,” Gladden said. “He was in the ear, yelling in the ear saying `you’re not playing like yourself.’. It was like a motivation talk. I knew I was doing bad. I knew I had to step it up and I did. They were leaving me open so I took every shot that I could and I was making them so I was like hot, so give me the ball, give me the ball.”
There may have been nothing bigger than Neely’s driving lay up at the buzzer at the end of the first overtime. The Seminoles never led in the first overtime and found themselves down four points with 55 seconds left. Hodges hit a very deep three-pointer to pull FSU to within one with 29 seconds left and the Seminoles fouled immediately. Virginia Tech’s Kirby Copeland hit one of two foul shots to give the Hokies a 72-70 advantage, giving FSU the ball with 20 seconds left. Gladden missed a very physical lay up with 10 seconds remaining and an FSU foul sent Kerri Gardin to the free throw line. She missed them both and Neely didn’t hesitate driving right down the middle of the lane to force yet another overtime.
The second overtime belonged to the Seminoles, who never trailed in the period. Gladden and Hodges hit back-to-back buckets and the Tribe would not relinquish the lead. FSU had a slim 79-78 lead with 1:08 remaining thanks to another missed Hokie free throw and Holly Johnson sealed the victory with two big charity shots with 19 seconds left.
“We just find a way,” Semrau said. “And we know we’re going to have to scratch and claw and fight for every game. It’s just magnified when it’s overtime, overtime and double overtime. To get this game on the road – it’s huge because games in this league are really tough on the road and we know that.”
FSU shot 43 percent for the game and recorded a season-high 20 assists. The Seminoles also shot 78 percent from the free throw line on 14-for-18. Virginia Tech was led by Gardin’s 22 points and 16 rebounds as the Hokies shot 42 percent from the field and outrebounded FSU 47-40.
“They (the FSU players) just fought, fought and fought,” Semrau said. “We got outrebounded, they attempted more free throws but still we found a way to win. We had more points in the paint, more points off turnovers, again, they just found a way to win.”
The second half saw the Hokies match their largest lead of the game at six at 45-39 with 10:54 left but the Seminoles always had an answer. The second half was very much like the first in that there were nine ties. The first half, statistically, was rather even, starting with the 29-29 halftime score – the eighth tie of the first 20 minutes. Hodges led all players with nine points while Adeduntan added five rebounds. The Seminoles’ biggest lead was three points early on but the Hokies pulled away for a 27-21 lead with just under four minutes left in the half when they went on a 7-0 run. Hodges started a 6-0 FSU run that forced the game’s seventh tie. Seven different Seminoles scored in the half as FSU shot 40 percent. Virginia Tech had balanced scoring and shot 41 percent from the field and had an 18-17 rebounding edge.
Virginia Tech’s crowd of 3,824 was the second largest crowd FSU has played in front of this season. The Seminoles played in front of 3,861 fans in the loss to Montana in late December.
“What a great environment they have here at Virginia Tech,” Semrau said. “It’s just tremendous. It reminds me of when I used to coach at Wisconsin and people were right on top of you going straight up. What a phenomenal crowd. Virginia Tech just has so many different weapons. Kerri Gardin, we just couldn’t get her off the boards. Ten offensive boards, it was just amazing.”
The Seminoles’ will have another ACC road test on Thursday, January 27th at rival-Miami. FSU defeated the Hurricanes 65-56 in Tallahassee on January 9th – in regulation.
“We’re just not quite getting it done in regulation,” Semrau said. “Because of who we are, because we have smaller numbers, we’re more fit than a lot of people. I can always count on my players to keep going. We got to get back to work about getting things done earlier.”